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Help with pronouncing un in French

I'm having a little bit of trouble with the pronunciation of un in the standard French accent. If you spelt it out in English phonetically, how would it be?

Is it like uh?

I hear a lot of pronunciations online but they all seem to be slightly different. Pronouncing it with the Quebecois accent seems easier where it is like urn or er(n).

April 10, 2018



It is almost like uh. But the 'u' you pronounce stronger, and you have a little bit of the n sound.


I would say it's like you pronounce "un" in "uninteresting" when you have a cold, but you stop just before you pronounce the "n", as in "nuts". That's the best I can do!


What makes French such a beautiful language is that the sound at the end of a word can change acccording to what follows it. It sounds a little daunting but really when you start speaking it will come out that way naturally, just like "a" & "an" in English. If the next word begins with a consonant, your tongue is not to touch the roof of your mouth. Par exemple: "J'ai besoin d'un cartable." You bring the tongue back a little bit before you say cartable, but there is no "n" sound. Try "Je suis un garçon". If the "un" comes before a word starting with a vowel, you pronounce the "n" touching the roof of your mouth before you start the next word. Par exemple: "J'ai un oiseau." You can feel and hear the "n" sound. "Je suis un garçon" is a great sentence to explain this because you will use the "s" sound at the end of "suis" to link to the vowel at the beginning of "un" as well. Whereas if you are saying something more like "Je suis professeur" you would not pronounce the s at the end of suis because there is no vowel in the next word. Maybe this seems a little intimidating at first but really you'll get the hang of it no problem. This linking of words is what makes French so fun to speak, imo. I hope this helps, let me know :-)


Thanks for the perspective! I noticed that when I said "Un ours" I automatically pronounced the n in un.

If you were to spell Un phonetically in English (with it being in front of a word with a consonant), how would you spell it?


Berlitz suggests 'uhng'. A short, nasal "uhng".


It's a sound that doesn't occur in English, so it's hard to transliterate.

Maybe try this. Make a long, drawn-out 'eh' sound (as in 'best'). As you continue to phonate, and without changing the position of your tongue, round your lips. This should result in the vowel sound represented in French by 'eu' (as in 'peur').

To turn 'eu' to 'un', you need to learn to nasalize it, which means to allow some of the air you're phonating with to pass through the nose. For many people, imitating either Squidward Tentacles or the Wicked Witch of the West (listen to the line "I'LL get you, my pretty!") will naturally result in nasalization. For some people, it's more difficult. You'll know you have it right when, if you pinch your nostrils shut with your fingers as you make the sound, the sound changes dramatically and you can feel your fingers vibrating.

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